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June 22, 2017

President of Texas A&M University-Kingsville Steven Tallant gives testimony on The Next Farm Bill: University Research

President of Texas A&M University-Kingsville Steven Tallant testified at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on "The Next Farm Bill: University Research," on June 22, 2017. Tallant, who has also represented the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as a member of the USDA/HACU Leadership Group appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) President and CEO Antonio R. Flores, was part of a panel taking part in the hearing.

President Tallant's testimony addressed the need for educating current and future Hispanic students, especially at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), to fill the pool of scientists necessary to maintain the nation's lead in global production of food and industrial products produced by agriculture. Among the points emphasized by Tallant were:  

  • Hispanics represent more than 18% of the U.S. population or over 57 million individuals but make up less than 8% of agriculture majors in institutions of higher education  
  • Hispanic participation in agriculture-related academic programs and within the industry is made worse by inadequate Federal investments and allocation of resources in HSIs  
  • Over 100 HSIs awarded at least 15% of their degrees in agriculture-related fields over the two most recent academic years but receive no dedicated funding to promote or sustain the enrollment of Hispanics in agriculture-related academic programs as well as the development and maintenance of the required research infrastructure  

Another critical issue addressed was the Hispanic-Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities (HSACU) cohort established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill to increase Hispanics in agriculture. The reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2014 kept the HSACU programs and added a new competitive grants program in support of Hispanic agricultural workers and youth, yet HSACU programs have never been funded by Congress. A repercussion of HSACU status is ineligibility for the Non-Land Grant program, also authorized as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, resulting in a lack of funding as HSACUs and ineligibility for the Non-Land Grant program.

President Tallant recommended that the committee maintain authorization and funding levels for HSACU programs and, more importantly, that Congress implement the programs by providing funding.

"It was an honor to be asked to represent Hispanic-Serving Institutions and testify before the House Agriculture Committee. It is clear that agricultural research, along with increasing Hispanic participation in the agriculture sector, is incredibly important to our future. The need for collaboration and partnerships was highlighted during the hearing, and it is gratifying to see that our educational counterparts and national leaders recognize the need to work together to ensure both access to and advancement in agriculture research and development," said Tallant.

To view President Tallant's testimony before the House Agriculture Committee hearing, click here. For a PDF of the testimony, click here